According to a new study published Wednesday, November 9, 2022 in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, mindfulness meditation worked as well as a standard drug for treating anxiety in the first head-to-head comparison.

The study tested a widely used mindfulness program that includes 2 1/2 hours of classes weekly and 45 minutes of daily practice at home. Participants were randomly assigned to the program or daily use of a generic drug sold under the brand name Lexapro for depression and anxiety.

After two months, anxiety as measured on a severity scale declined by about 30% in both groups and continued to decrease during the following four months. So it appears that mindfulness-based stress reduction was a well-tolerated treatment option with comparable effectiveness to a first-line medication for patients with anxiety disorders.

Mindfulness, a form of meditation that emphasizes focusing only on what’s happening at the moment and dismissing intrusive thoughts, often starts with breathing exercises followed by thinking about each body part, head to toe. Practicing mindfulness also includes dismissing worrisome thoughts after acknowledging their existence.

As you may remember, there have been multiple reports in recent months that have suggested adults be routinely screened for anxiety, and a national panel of health experts is now recommending that children ages 8 and up be screened for anxiety. So not only is this new study timely, but it also speaks to the repercussions we’re all facing due to pandemic-related stress, political and racial unrest, and more.

When it comes to mental health, a trained professional will always be needed to help our communities. Find out what opportunities are available and to register for our Alcohol and Drug Counselor Certificate Programs.

New study shows mindfulness works as well for anxiety as standard drug